Cleanliness is next to…???


The next day I felt like I was hit by a truck, but had many chores to complete and one of them was to get Mom’s condo ready for ‘sale’.

I went over first thing in the morning and began the tedious if not difficult effort of cleaning out her home. I slowly opened the door and for a moment expected Mom to meet me and give me a hug. I realized, in all likelihood that would never happen again. I took a deep breath and began to clean the kitchen. I opened the fridge to throw out food and noticed there were dirty dishes in the fridge and only a few food items. I didn’t have time to question this so I began to empty the dishes onto the countertop. Once all the dishes were out of the fridge I bent down to open the dishwasher. I couldn’t help but feel a great sadness when I noticed that the missing food was stored in the dishwasher. I also questioned the length of time this may have been going on… food in the dishwasher and dirty dishes in the fridge. I grabbed a garbage bag and threw out all the food and placed the dirty dishes to be cleaned in the dishwasher. Since it was a beautiful summer day I decided I would open the sliding glass doors that went to the balcony. I looked down on the balcony and noticed piles of ripped tissues and paper. What was she thinking? Why would she do this? Why did I not see this sooner? These are the many questions that I would begin to ask myself, questions that would never be answered. I didn’t have much time to think, as a real estate agent was coming over in a couple of hours to discuss the sale price. I started to clean the balcony and flung everything into another garbage bag. I assumed that the agent would suggest putting an outdoor rug on the balcony to cover some of the imperfections in the concrete, so I began to measure the length and width. I went back into the condo and felt an enormous emptiness. The love and comfort had been sucked out of this place, just like it had been sucked out of Mom, but sadly with Mom it had been replaced with a stranger. I decided to vacuum the hallway, living and dining room. I plugged it in and began to clean. I couldn’t help but smile and hear a little voice inside my head saying ‘you’re not doing this correctly, the vacuum lines need to be straight!’ That was one of Mom’s little compulsive traits she would always demonstrate and declare out loud. I bent down to vacuum under the sofa and it jammed. Pulling out the vacuum I noticed more tissues and ripped paper clogging the suction nozzle. Where the heck did she get all this tissue and paper? And why was it thrown under the sofa, and in reexamining the issue, why on the balcony? I unclogged the nozzle, got on my hands and knees to pick up all the tissue and paper remnants. There was no use in asking why anymore as time was counting down, I would just continue on the cleaning binge.

Next cleaning stop, Mom’s bedroom. This time I decided to look under the bed and dressers prior to vacuuming. Good thing too, as I found many opened chocolate boxes. The boxes consisted of Pot of Gold, Ferrero Rocher, and Laura Secord with crinkled used wrappers scattered under the bed. Mom didn’t have a sweet tooth, nor did she eat many chocolates, her on-set diabetes was controlled by diet and she always succeeded in making sure her food intake was perfect. Unless there was a leprechaun in the room, and I was pretty sure there wasn’t, she was eating these ‘bonbon’s’ at some point. I thought to myself, could this be the issue? Her blood sugar was out of whack and maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. I stopped in my tracks and muttered ‘ha, perhaps all the Doctors WERE wrong’!


© 2014 Paula Bilz. All Rights Reserved.


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